DESIGN VOICES – Spring
Designer on Designers: Richard Granoff, Principal, Granoff Architects, Greenwich
By Christina Roughan, Roughan Interiors
Creating from the Juncture of Architecture, Interiors and Landscapes
Rich Granoff, principal architect and founder of Greenwich-based Granoff Architects, is no ordinary architect. In fact, I would call him a true design visionary. He has grown his firm exponentially over the past 20 years. It now includes residential, commercial and landscape architecture as well as interior and sustainable design. His newest endeavor, real estate development, has taken off, keeping him eager to move forward with the next project.
With work spanning the nation, it is no surprise that he is the “go to” architect in the New York Metro area. From humble beginnings on Long Island to his chic loft-inspired offices in Greenwich, Granoff adds life, shape and depth to every project he and his staff design. The company’s philosophy is, “Respect for the past and excitement about the future.” I understand why.
Upon walking into Granoff Architects offices, that formerly housed the Greenwich Light & Power Company, I immediately wanted to move in! Although a commercial space, it is reminiscent of a high-end residence in a transformed Tribeca warehouse. The interiors are clean and bright and feature a most amazing use of black and white contrast. The windows are extraordinary and a large plant wall adds warmth and a grand “hello” when you walk in to meet the most welcoming receptionist.
As an interior designer whose focus is luxury residential spaces and special projects, it was such an enjoyable experience to interview an architect whose knowledge and zest for life plays out in his work. Rich travels extensively and his dialogue is thought-provoking. Granoff Architects work is all about intelligence, spirit and livable spaces that take on a new meaning through renovation. Please enjoy Richard Granoff’s answers to my top 15 questions for Rich Granoff.
Architecture & Design
1. When did you first know you were going to be Architect/Entrepreneur/Developer? Did your interest start at a young age?
When I was a kid growing up on Long Island, houses were being built on my block and I was fascinated by this. I used to bring my lunch to the site and eat with the workers. This led to my interest in architecture and, eventually, architecture school at the age of 18.
2. What is Granoff Architects known for?
We are a 25-person firm that provides design services in three disciplines: architecture. landscape architecture and interior design. This allows us to be ‘full service’ to our clients and have a seamless design process. This also results in higher quality ‘integrated’ design. We are also unique in that we work on a very wide variety of projects, both residential and commercial: new homes, residential renovations, apartment buildings, condos, office interiors, retail, restaurants, etc.
3. What is the intersection between architecture and interior design?
The architect creates the space/light and the interior designer injects the finishes/furniture. There is a ‘gray area’ when it comes to lighting, millwork and details. How does each discipline ideally influence the other? Architecture and interior design should be seamless, which is why we do both in-house.
4. Should landscape design reflect the home’s architecture, the natural setting, or both?
Similar to interior design, landscape architecture should also be complementary to the building design. Sometimes the site inspires our design, other times we take cues from the architecture and apply this to the site. We often create ‘outdoor rooms’ that capture the landscape in special ways.
5. Why should the homeowner care about green building and sustainability?
There are many ‘shades of green’. Energy efficiency and cost savings are the main reason. But ‘healthy home’ and environmental awareness are also good reasons to build sustainably. Can you build green regardless of whether you’re building anew or renovating? Absolutely. All of our projects have sustainable features that include super-insulated building envelopes, recycled materials, water-saving fixtures and LED lighting. When the budget allows, we use geothermal HVAC systems and PV solar energy generation.
6. Is there anything residential design can borrow from commercial spaces? Vice Versa?
I see a trend in the commercial world for design that is ‘warm modern’ and ‘home-y’. We are currently designing a few co-working projects with a very residential feel. Conversely, I have always liked using commercial products in our residential work. This includes commercial carpeting, light fixtures and windows and doors.
7. How does travel influence your aesthetic?
I have traveled extensively my entire life, starting with a year of architecture school in Italy. This had a huge influence on me and made me realize that there is so much diversity of design all around the world. I recently came back from a trip to Iceland, where I was blown away by both the natural landscape and the awesome Nordic modern design.
8. Which project or accomplishment do you consider to be the most significant in your career and why?
I recently completed the new Granoff Architects Building in Greenwich. We took a 1929 rundown art deco industrial building and gut-renovated the 30,000-square- foot structure. We received landmark status from the state in the process. We then designed our new 8,000- square-foot offices, which showcase our skills. Finally, we just leased up all the remaining space in the building and are completing construction for those tenants. It is very gratifying to have such a successful architectural project, as well as a real estate development project ‘home run’!
9. Who do you admire in the industry or outside and why?
I am a student of history and have been influenced by many great designers, musicians and artists. I am a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and the mid-century modernists including Eliot Noyes and Richard Neutra. Jazz music has developed my sense of rhythm. I am also a drummer. I am also an avid collector of modern art, including Picasso, Gormley and Warhol. I am always inspired by the materiality of a great painting or the form of a cool sculpture. I try to integrate art and music into my work.
10. Are you involved in any philanthropic endeavors in Greenwich or elsewhere?
I feel very fortunate to have a thriving architectural practice in such a wonderful community. As such, I feel it is very important to give back. Granoff Architects does many pro bono projects for local organizations. This includes the Red Cross, Neighbor to Neighbor, River House, Pathways, UJA and many others. I also serve on the boards of many not-for-profits including Kids in Crisis, Chabad, ONS Foundation and the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce.
11. If you weren’t an architect what would be your chosen profession?
12. What’s the most interesting fact we can learn about you?
I come from a long line of butchers.
13. What decorative piece of art or furniture can you not live without — and why?
I have an original Eames chair from 1964, nicely worn in. It is a true iconic piece, that is also really comfortable.
14. What’s your favorite band?
The Grateful Dead.
15. Work aside, where is your favorite place to relax?
At my home in Stratton, Vermont.
See you next time. Cheers!
Weston, CT / New York City
Editor’s Note: Welcome to Designer on Designers, a KLAFFStyle column by designer Christina Roughan of Roughan Interiors. As an interior designer for more than 20 years, Chris has met and collaborated with some of the best-known design professionals in the industry. She is, in fact, a designer’s designer, having completed commercial and/or residential assignments for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Takashimaya and many other noted clients. Chris will be interviewing her colleagues from the designer’s point of view and sharing their design insights.
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